And he said with obvious pride, "I am a self-made man". There was a glow in his eyes as he proclaimed his arrival, and spoke about how he had become successful. The important lessons from his life that future generations could look at and learn from.
And I asked with humility, "So, how self-made are you really?". There was a twinkle in my eye as I stated the facts. Your origin is but the fusion of two cells. The unseen and unknown million sacrifices and choices of your parents, your family and your friends are but obvious. The unseen and unknown sacrifices of people you don't even know is not that obvious in your becoming what you are. Your physical growth is fuelled by the grains from the fields of a farmer. Your emotional growth is thanks to your family and friends and enemies. Your intellectual growth is kindled by your teachers, both formal and informal. Your being has been shaped by all these folks and the many thousands of encounters on your way. So, how much of what you are is self-made, how much of your life is really shaped by you?
And he said with a bitter smile, "It was my handwork, to overcome the circumstances that life placed in my path, that made me what I am". There was a twitch in his eyes as he defended himself, and provided his reasons for his success.
And I said with a knowing smile, "So, who placed those circumstances in your path and why?". There was mischief in my eyes as I dished out my logic. Your circumstances made you stronger but who created those circumstances? Were those circumstances placed on your path so that you fail? Or were they on your path so that you could learn and become stronger? So, how much of your life was shaped by the circumstances and how much of your life was made by you?
"But it was me, I am a self-made man" he pleaded with downcast eyes. I asked, "But where is the self in all of this? Your parent's cells, a farmer's toil, a teacher's diligence, a family's support, a world's indifference, an unfavourable circumstance, an inglorious defeat, a famous victory, a worthy opponent, an able ally, a crooked accomplice, an honest teammate, a fortunate investment, a real estate boom, an undeserved pink slip, a well deserved bonus, and many more such life events. All of these shaped you, but which of these is self? Which of these is you? "
"So, what is self? If I am made of non-self elements and non-self moments, then what is self?" he looked at me with bewildered eyes. I said, "Just like a mountain becomes a mountain by the seismic changes in the earth, by the pull and push of the forces of nature. Just like a river becomes a river, by the million tributaries that join it, by the rain and clouds. Just like the earth, the sun and the stars come to be, so do you. You are one with everything else. Remember you take different forms, but you are a part of the whole. You become, but you already are. Drop the self, you already are."
Oh, this conversation between ME and myself......